Governor Martin O'Malley Announces Dr. Joshua Sharfstein as Maryland's Secretary of Health and Mental Hygiene

Governor Martin O'Malley Announces Dr. Joshua Sharfstein as Maryland's Secretary of Health and Mental Hygiene
Secretary John Colmers to step down after four years leading Maryland's health agency 

ANNAPOLIS, MD (January 5, 2011)-Governor Martin O'Malley announced today the appointment of Dr. Joshua Sharfstein as Maryland's Secretary of Health and Mental Hygiene.  Sharfstein currently serves as Principal Deputy Commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and previous served as Baltimore City Health Commissioner.  John Colmers, who has led the state's health agency since 2007, announced his decision to step down as Secretary of the 7,000-employee agency.

"I want to thank John Colmers for his leadership these last four years.  Having John at the helm of one of the state's largest agencies has been critical as we've navigated through this recession while expanding healthcare to more of our citizens," said Governor O'Malley.  "While we're saddened to be losing John, Dr. Sharfstein will bring to the position the expertise and professionalism needed to continue the progress we've made for the people of Maryland."

Sharfstein's first day as Maryland's Secretary of Health and Mental Hygiene will coincide with the start of the 2011 Legislative Session, January 12. 

"It is a special honor to serve my state at such a critical time for health care and public health," said Dr. Sharfstein. "The tremendous accomplishments of the last four years provide a terrific foundation for further progress." 

"I want to thank Governor O'Malley and Lt. Gov. Brown for the opportunity to serve the families of Maryland in the best health job in America," said Secretary Colmers. "Because of their leadership, we've been able to accomplish a great deal, even in difficult times. Although I will miss the ingenuity and teamwork of the many outstanding professionals at DHMH, they will soon welcome outstanding new leadership to the department."

Since 2007, in historically difficult economic times, the O'Malley-Brown Administration has expanded health care coverage to nearly 243,000 more Marylanders.  Under the leadership of Secretary Colmers and Lt. Governor Anthony Brown, Maryland is a national leader in transforming our health care system and preparing for full implementation of federal health care reform.  Maryland recorded the lowest rate of infant mortality ever recorded, received national acclaim for its response to the H1N1 pandemic, and increased access to dental care for low-income children in Maryland through the Deamonte Driver project.

Dr. Joshua Sharfstein, a graduate of Harvard Medical School and former Congressional staffer, has served as Principal Deputy Commissioner for the Food and Drug Administration since 2009.  Prior to joining the Obama Administration, Dr. Sharfstein serves as Commissioner of Health for the City of Baltimore where he led efforts to expand literacy efforts in pediatric primary care, facilitated the transition to Medicare Part D for disabled adults, engaged college students in public health activities, increase influenza vaccination of healthcare workers, and expanded access to effective treatment for opioid addiction.

Both Governor O'Malley and Dr. Sharfstein have been named by Governing Magazine as Public Officials of the Year.